6 Easter, May 6
“The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God” (Acts 10:45-46). Amid such evidence, the question arose, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:47). “So [Peter] ordered them to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they invited him to stay for several days” (Acts 10:48). This bears repeating. A small enclave of Jews who followed Jesus and lived by the power of his risen Spirit witness his outpouring upon uncircumcised Gentiles; by implication, the entire known world. From the pages of the New Testament, the church is infused with a catholic soul.
Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:51). The Rite One Communion Service highlights the universality of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross: “Thou … didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the cross for our redemption; who made there by his one oblation of himself once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world” (BCP, p. 334). The proclamation of Christ’s self-oblation for the whole world, when received, appears everywhere as new speech, a new song, and renewed exultation, because the Church is, in Christ, a new being (Ps. 98). Although the vindication of God’s people occurs in “the sight of the nations,” this does not leave the nations merely as outside observes. Rather, the Spirit of the risen Lord “fell upon” and “poured out” upon the nations. Thus, there is one gospel and one catholic Church. The one Spirit is equally present in every part as in the whole.
The Holy Spirit inspires new speech and exultation, songs and marvels, victory and vindication, joy breaking forth in all the earth. The lyre makes a melody, the trumpet blasts, the horn blows, the seas roar, the hills sing, and yet every sound is an eruption from the deepest silence, the hidden ground of love. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love” (John 15:9).
A fully developed doctrine of the Trinity is a critical tool for this vital passage. The Father is the everlasting source of all love, and because the Father is God, the Father is perfect love. The perfection of love is self-offering. All that the Father has he gives to the Son, and yet the fullness of the Father remains. The Son is the everlasting and immediate and complete return of Love to the Father.
All that the Father gives to the Son, the Son returns to the Father. The Father’s begetting love and the Son’s responsive Love are a never-ending exchange, a spiraling affection, an uninterrupted flow that is called the Holy Spirit. To be in Christ is to be in this dynamic love. “Everyone who loves the parent loves the child” (1 John 5:1). We are the children of God by adoption and grace. We are born of the Father, we are grafted into the Son, and we ride upon the wings of Holy Spirit. In this mystery our joy is full, though always new and ever expanding. We live by the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Look It Up
Read John 15:9.
Think About It
The gospel is a love song.